SEAL Team’s Jessica Paré on the Personal Price of Being a Hero

Skip Bolen/CBS
Skip Bolen/CBS

We’d all love to be the hero and save the day, but what cost would we be willing to pay? Being the best of the best can come at a price, and that’s what will be examined in the new CBS/Global series SEAL Team. The new military drama, premiering Wednesday, September 27 at 9 p.m. ET on CBS and Global, will follow the professional and personal lives of the most elite team of Navy SEALs. Viewers will be given an inside look at the unit as they train, plan and execute the most dangerous and high stake missions, and see the toll this can take on their personal lives.

David Boreanaz (Bones, Angel) is SEAL Team leader Jason Hayes, a respected warrior whose home life is suffering because of his job. Also vital to the team’s success is CIA analyst Mandy Ellis (Jessica Paré, Mad Men), who has also sacrificed a lot to work and root out evil and terrorists. In order to get a closer look at both Mandy and the new series, The TV Junkies spoke exclusively with Montreal native Paré. She discusses what drew her to the role, shares a little about her character and discusses what it’s like to work on another show with a large ensemble cast.


The TV Junkies: What can you share about your character Mandy Ellis and her role on SEAL Team?

Jessica Paré: Mandy is a CIA analyst that works with the team, and she is driven, passionate about her job and really good at it. She’s always watching and threading a narrative from multiple sources and putting things together. I think of her as being quite committed to her job and not having much of a personal life. I’m not sure she really feels that is a great loss, as she doesn’t have time for that at the moment. I think she’s pretty mysterious, always watching and taking it in and probably most comfortable under the cover of darkness.

TTVJ: Being a part of the team depicted in SEAL Team has to take a very special kind of individual. What is driving Mandy to want to do this job?

JP: The interesting thing is that she’s kind of part of the team, but she’s also not. She’s in a different branch and has her own agenda and path. They work together, and pretty well, but there’s also an unknown factor about her.

TTVJ: Since Mandy is the analyst and in charge back at home, will she ever get to go out on missions?

JP: I don’t know. For the most part she gets to stay in the air-conditioned warehouses. [laughs] I’m sure Mandy the character would love to get out there in the field, but Jessica the actress is pretty psyched about the AC, I’m not going to lie.

TTVJ: So speaking of Jessica the actress, what drew you to this project and made you want to be a part of the show?

JP: First and foremost, I was attracted by the writing. The pilot is really beautifully written and has a very unique voice. What we’re trying to do is portray these people who are so often mythologized as capital H heroes, and they are, but they are also human people. They are complex and have so many things going on under the surface. What does it take when you’re the kind of person who puts yourself in these dangerous, extremely high stake situations? What toll does that take on your personal life? What does it mean in your day to day? It’s such a different perspective and very character based. That perspective in particular is what differentiates this show.

Patti Perret/CBS
Patti Perret/CBS

TTVJ: What kind of research and training did you have to go through for this role?

JP: They did tell me that they were going to have us come back and do a SEAL training camp. I was on holiday in Canada, and for a very anxious week I got up an hour before my kids and did a 100 crunches, 200 push ups, 100 lunges and 100 squats. Then we didn’t end up doing it, which was a huge relief for me!

TTVJ: After Mad Men, you’re no stranger to working on shows with big ensemble casts. What is it like working with the group here on SEAL Team, especially since it’s a lot of guys?

JP: A lot of guys. A LOT of guys! [laughs] It’s very different because I wasn’t on Mad Men until Season 4, so I was already stepping onto a machine that was running seamlessly. We shot in a very classical way, and the way we shoot this is very different. The cameras are moving around all the time, and you kind of don’t know what’s happening. It’s really fun and keeps everything exciting and alive. It is so completely different from the classical way we did things on Mad Men. Both have their pros and cons, but for this in particular where the energy is quick and the action is quick, that way of shooting keeps us on our toes.

In terms of the cast, we are having an absolute blast and it has been so much fun to shoot. We’ve had some really long days, but David Boreanaz is such a great leader, and just like on Mad Men, Jon Hamm really set the tone. I’m very lucky to have worked with Jon, who is an incredible master at that skill, and then go from him to working with David, who is so expansive, generous and funny. It’s a thrill and we’re all very happy.


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SEAL Team premieres Wednesday, September 27 at 9 p.m. on CBS and Global.